Sine Qua Non Pundit

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Saturday, February 01, 2003


We've lost the Columbia space shuttle, but you already know that by now. I already have a house full of relatives in town for a funeral today and now this.

There is an interesting quirk of human nature that can only be observed when something like this happens. The most cynical amongst us speak in terms of hope, that rescue is possible as well as recovery. If you think of it objectively, you have to realize that there is no hope of anyone surviving when the spacecraft breaks apart at an altitude of 200,000 ft while traveling at 12,500 mph. Still, the fact that we hold out hope speaks well of our intentions and desires.

Rest in peace brave souls.

Friday, January 31, 2003

How To Find Out The Truth About Anyone

Maybe Hans Blix could use this. It's got to be better than what they've accomplished thus far.



Aside from these Yankee fetish, Dr. Manhattan is a pretty smart guy. Must be nice to be able to pay John Lieber for a year hoping that he'll be able to pitch next year.

Signed, a disgruntled Cub fan living in St. Louis.

And you thought you had it tough.


Richard Cohen Alert Level: Elevated

My friend Vince has proposed the following rating levels for the Scourges (with some editing):

Severe (Red) - The "you'll see red" alert. Dick's leftist leanings are fully revealed. The appearance of a Richard's grandfather makes this automatic.

High (Orange) - The "high blood pressure" alert. Well now, orange you glad you have Charles Austin to take Richard Cohen to task for the illogic used in Dick's quest for illiberal uptopia?

Elevated (Yellow) - The "yellow journalism" alert. See Dick. See Dick rant. See Dick's elevated sense of his own opinion's importance. See Dick weave men of yellow straw. See Charles. See Charles reason. See Charles refute Dick. See Charles vanquish men of yellow straw with extreme prejudice.

Guarded (Blue) - The "I'm so blue" alert. Dick is so obsessed, maybe he ought to be guarded. Dick bemoans the fact that (pick one) the Big He is no longer President : Al Gore is not President : Someone not a Democrat is President/Senator/Dog Catcher : (fill in the blank ____) is/is not (fill in the blank ____).

Low (Green) - The "rarely used" alert. Generally about once every three months. Richard Cohen writes something that makes sense. On occasion, he even avoids his usual ad hominem attacks and straw men.

Any thoughts?


Tomorrow's Shower Torture

Breach baby
Breach baby
Give me Iraq
Give me something that I can dismember
Searching was fun
We'd be out in the sun every day...


Get Well Soon

Tom Scott has signed off for a while to lose some weight and get healthy after a triple by-pass. Drop him a note of encouragement. Now and for the future.


Gotta Have A Home

Time to welcome a few more members to Possumblog's (the pater familias of the best spelling kids in Trussville, AL!) Axis of Weevil:

Nathan Lott
Gone South
Yorkie Blog
Fragments From Floyd
Hello Bloggy!
Gut Rumbles
Indigo Insights
Compleat Redneck
Silent Running
Wasted Electrons
Meryl Yourish
Arkat Kingtroll

I think that's all the new folks since I last updated.


Hey, Everybody!

Its January 31, which means Buck's on the Brazos has reopened! Tell 'em a friend of The Fat Guy sent you.


Mangled Baby Ducks

James Lileks seems to have missed this one. So now he's batting only .999997.



I wonder if the important disputes about Iraq are impacting the sales of this product?


The Third Montanan of the Apocalypse is Nigh

Juan Gato is one year old today!

Respect his authoritie!


This Sounds Familiar

Saddam might not just wait to die:

U.S. intelligence agencies are closely monitoring Iraq's military forces and the ruling Ba'ath party in Baghdad. Spy agencies are looking carefully for signs that Saddam Hussein will start a pre-emptive attack before U.S. military forces can complete their buildup in the region.

"We suspect he will try to do something," one defense official told us.

Where have I heard this before?


This Is Not His Father's Iraq War

President George W. Bush, sans "H", is serious:

"The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force — including potentially nuclear weapons — to the use of [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," the document, National Security Presidential Directive 17, set out on Sept. 14 last year.

I wonder what France and Germany think about this? Well, actually I don't.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Midwest Blogbash IV

It's that time again, and since no one else has stepped up to the plate, I'll get the ball rolling. The fourth pseudo-annual Midwest Blogbash will be held beginning at 6:30 PM, on Friday, February 21, somewhere in the greater Kirkwood area.

Why a Blogbash? As Bluto would say, "Why not?" I think we'll have a lot to talk about by then.

Why 6:30 PM? Because it's late enough to get there after work, but not so late as to cause hunger pangs for early diners; and since we've closed down the joints on the previous three Midwest Blogbashes, I want to make sure we have sufficient time to, well ..., you'll just have to show up and find out. We could start earlier, but then I'd probably be unable to drive home.

Why Friday, February 21? Because I have to be out of town next week, the next Friday is Valentine's Day -- and trust me, this is not what my wife has in mind -- and anything out beyond three weeks is far, far too far away to plan for while Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are trying to implement their own Strangelovian Doomsday device by eventually forcing the US to respond in biblical plague terms should they be successful in protecting Saddam much longer.

Why the greater Kirkwood area? Because there is no lesser Kirkwood area. And because I live there and since I'm taking the trouble to arrange it, I get to pick the venue. I am open to suggestions, however. And bribes. And rides from designated drivers.

Let me know if you are coming via comment or e-mail, so I can make the appropriate arrangements for space, ambulances, clowns, etc.

The group challenge for this event is twofold. First, we must strive to get at least one blogger from at least 100 miles away to attend as our honorary guest. Second, as soon as I can work out the logistics, we will get the big time bloggers to call us at our chosen venue to inspire us and interrupt our dinner and our drinking games.

That is all.


How About Best 3 Out of 5? 4 Out of 7? 5 Out of 9?

Some Democrats Want Another Vote on Iraq

"What concerns me greatly is that this president appears to place himself above the international mandates of the United Nations (news - web sites)," Sen. Robert Byrd (news, bio, voting record), D-W.Va., said in the Senate as he sought a U.N. Security Council vote.

President George W. Bush also failed to get the permission of a secret organization, whose name I don't have to mention here, to which Sen. Byrd once belonged.

"It is wrong for the administration to beat the drums of war," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. He said Congress has a "responsibility to the Constitution and the American people to act again on this all-important issue of war or peace."

Doesn't he mean to not act?

France and Germany, among other nations, want Bush to give U.N. weapons inspectors more time. Kennedy, Byrd and other Democrats made the same argument on the Senate floor. Kennedy said the inspection process is "working and should be allowed to continue." Byrd said it would be a "grave mistake" to pre-empt the work of the inspectors, and that the United States would pay a high cost in international standing if it went to war without the support of allies. "America's reputation in the court of world opinion is in tatters," he said.

Well, opinions are like assholes. Everyone got one and everybody else's stinks. Everyone needs to remember in 2004 which constituency Sen. Byrd (D - France) and Sen. Kennedy (D - Germany) represent. Perhaps if Sen. Byrd (D - France) would read the previous post he wouldn't say such silly things.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., renewed his claim that Bush has not yet made a convincing case for war, but declined to endorse a call for another vote in Congress. "I don't know that it requires a second vote but I do believe that it requires additional debate," he said.

Reporters tried to follow up to Sen. Daschle's (D - Shangi-La) statement, reminding him of Hans Blix's statement last week that Iraq was not disarming, but he had stuck his fingers in his hears and was yelling, "I'm not listening," over their questions.

War will not disarm Iraq," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, of Ohio. "Bombs cannot find weapons of mass destruction and if bombs could find weapons of mass destruction, inspectors can find weapons of mass destruction."

Yes, but inspections will be so much easier when the threat of imminent death for any who talks to the inspectors -- and their families -- is no longer there. Somehow, I think a lot of people will be willing to volunteer information quite freely once every 30 ffoot high picture of Saddam comes down. But then again, Rep. Kucinich (D - Appeasmentville) still willfully misrepresents the role of the UN inspectors to begin with.

A spokesman said Kucinich was considering filing legislation on the subject.

Oh goody. Ever considered filing suit against Saddam for the 200,000 people he has killed? No? No, I didn't think so.


We Are Not Alone

Henceforth, anyone who calls the US actions towards Iraq unilateral can be safely called willful liars:

The real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA. Today they are under greater threat than ever.
The attacks of 11 September showed just how far terrorists — the enemies of our common values — are prepared to go to destroy them. Those outrages were an attack on all of us. In standing firm in defence of these principles, the governments and people of the United States and Europe have amply demonstrated the strength of their convictions. Today more than ever, the transatlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom.

We in Europe have a relationship with the United States which has stood the test of time. Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued cooperation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent. The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime’s persistent attempts to threaten world security.

In today’s world, more than ever before, it is vital that we preserve that unity and cohesion. We know that success in the day-to-day battle against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction demands unwavering determination and firm international cohesion on the part of all countries for whom freedom is precious.


The United Nations Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those Resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result.

We are confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities.

José María Aznar, Spain
José Manuel Durão Barroso, Portugal
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy
Tony Blair, United Kingdom
Václav Havel, Czech Republic
Peter Medgyessy, Hungary
Leszek Miller, Poland
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark

The United Kingdom has been there all along of course, as have the Australians. But this seals the fact that France and Germany are outnumbered in Europe by leaders willing to put publicly sign their names in support of the US. Now, let's see how democratic the EU really is.

I think this is called the tipping point.


Like A Big Black Monolith

In WW II, Germany, Italy, and Japan were called the Axis, starting a meme, though it wasn't really recognized as such at the time.

President George W. Bush picked it up and ran with it one year ago calling Iraq, Iran, and North Korea the Axis of Evil in the 2002 State of the Union address.

Terry Oglesby created the Axis of Weevil shortly thereafter for bloggers who have a connection to Alabama.

Scott Ott recently played off this brilliantly, labeling France and Germany the Axis of Weasel.

Someone else recently made a reference to an Axis of Wesel, though I cannot remember where I saw it or what it was in reference too. I thought it was Glenn Reynolds and that the reference was related to music, but I cannot locate it now. It's 0330 and I awoke from a nightmare so my thinking is perhaps less than lucid. No cracks like, "so what else is new," are particularly welcome at this moment. Sorry.

Coming full circle, wouldn't it be appropriate to call the original Axis the Axis of Wessel?

Per the blogospheric corollary of Godwin's Law, can we now put this meme to rest?

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

EU Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

I thought I was a little "out there" yesterday by suggesting that the EU would come up with a 20,000 page edict restricting the import of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese. But, no:

FARMERS throughout the country have 90 days to put a toy in every pigsty or face up to three months in jail. The new ruling from Brussels, which is to become law in Britain next week, is to keep pigs happy and prevent them chewing each other.

Is this part of the EU multicultural plan to slowly wean the Brits off bangers, so as to make Islam more palatable to the ham-loving masses? (This reminds me of the time I walked into a pub in Feltham and asked for a ham and cheese sandwich. The lady behind the counter looked at me for a couple seconds and then said, "Together?" But, I digress.) Is it an attempt by Brussels to hasten the integration of England into the EU by eliminating the full English breakfast for tourists, thus destroying their nationalistic pride?

You can't make this stuff up. No, really. I tried and I couldn't come up with anything as loony.

Official instructions to farmers are to give pigs “environmental enrichment” by providing “manipulable material”, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last night defined as balls.

Balls, the other other white meat. Yep, the EU has 'em all right.

The Government is not ready to recommend specific toys, however, because they know of no firm manufacturing playthings for pigs.

SIlly me, and I thought that creating an unnecessary market for consumerist bourgeois doo-dads was a capitalist failing, rather than a illiberal utopian statist approved method of achieving the perfect society.

But farmers should be careful about scoffing at the idea: they could be fined up to £1,000 or jailed for three months if they fail to amuse their stock.

And pigs, unlike most illiberal utopian statists are not easily amused.

Neville Meeker, who farms near Warminster in Wiltshire, was told by a farm standards official last week that he will lose the right to use the red tractor farm logo to market his pork if he does not buy a toy for each of 64 sties. Mr Meeker, who has 1,200 pigs, said: “I have a note here which says toys must be placed in the sties. I haven’t a clue what it means.” Yesterday he tried out a plastic aeroplane and a grey furry teddy bear. They seemed to please a small group of piglets, but he was less enthusiastic: “These toys won’t last two minutes. We’ve got to give them something that is hard-wearing. It has to be durable enough to withstand chewing for at least six months and we can’t use wood because that will cause splinter injuries and pieces could get caught in pigs’ throats.” He is also worried about the safety aspect of having toys scattered on pen floors. He said: “I can’t have chains because the roof of the unit is not strong enough. Pigs would just pull it down. Sadly I don’t have an old beam. I suppose I will just have to buy some balls.”

I guess it is now necessary to buy balls in the EU, since they've done such an excellent job of emasculating their citizenry.

In a letter to Farmers’ Weekly he complains: “Yes, the day of the toy inspector has arrived, and it is not a TV spoof. It is the dictators of Europe who have thought this up.

Not just toy inspectors -- pig toy inspectors. Don't worry though. If the tort reform that President George W. Bush has asked for is enacted, we'll be able to send you a lot of unemployed lawyers just looking for any reason to sue on behalf of greedy, uh ..., pigs.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

One More Thing

If President Bush's speech writers were a little more on top of it, they might have phrased one of the key points this way:

"A family making $40,000 a year pays $104 a month in federal taxes. Under my plan, they'll pay $4 a month if federal taxes, giving them an extra $100 a month in their pocket to pay for whatever they decide is most important to them."


Alright, I Have To Renege

Since I haven't seen it anywhere else as I did a quick perusal of the blogosphere and listened to Fox, President George W. Bush accomplished the following:

1. He took the issues away from the Democrats. They are thrashing and have deteriorated to having nothing but ad hominem attacks. They still don't seem to understand that in times of crisis, national security trumps domestic policy.

2. How can the Democrats argue against his statement that tax relief they voted for 8 years from now isn't warranted now?

3. Notice how often he'd get everyone to agree on a general concept in one area and then extend that concept into an area that wasn't anticipated? I noticed this several times.

4. He gave us firm dates and reading between the lines, indicated what was going to happen on those dates. He owns the field right now. Saddam is toast no later than February 15.

5. Man, was he subdued. No rah rah here. No blustering. Think of attending a board meeting where the CEO lays out the facts and explains the strategy and goals.

6. On what basis of seniority did Hillary get the most prominent seat of all Democrats? She sure didn't look comfortable.

Now I'm going to go catch some more ideas and thoughts from other folks.


Democrat Response

OK, we haven't caught bin Laden. Check.

We needed allies on D-Day. What? We were there helping Europe, not the other way around.

Budget crisis bad. OK, but what about the growth in spending at the state and ferderal level the last 10 years? Maybe that's the root of the problem, imagining that the business cycle had been repealed and that the .com boom would last forever.

Tax relief for my voters, but not for yours. Top 1%, check.

Government spending good. Consumer spending bad.

Really quite typical. Bush focused primarily on foreign affairs. The Democrats focus almost exclusively on domestic affairs.

Did anybody figure out why a Governor is giving the response? Is he meant to be the VP pick in 2004?

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Everything Bush does is bad.

It's funny that Gov. Locke started out noting how his family helped him get where he is, but now only the government can help people achieve their goals.

I guess the Governor missed the environmental sops President Bush threw out.

They will fight for affirmative action. They are gonna lose.

You know, almost every American can say the same thing about their grasping of the American dream that Governor Locke can. We are all immigrants, after all, if you go back far enough.

The did a poor job of guessing what Bush was going to say.

Did I miss anything?

DOWNDATE: Here's a substantial post from Jim Miller on Gary Locke.


But I Can Still Comment On Everything Else

Juan Williams has discovered this evening that President George W. Bush is a human being. A compassionate man. He's touched. He should be a touch embarrassed.

If the Democrat's response isn't anything other than top 1% getting richer, the economy falling apart, we haven't captured bin Laden yet, etc., they're toast. And rightly so.


My Only Comment on the SOTU Speech

Imagine for a moment, if you can, Al Gore giving this speech. Or Tom Daschle. Or John Kerry. Or Dick Gephardt. Or John Edwards. Or Howard Dean. Or Joe Lieberman. Or Hillary Clinton.

I trust the rest of the blogosphere will pick up the slack, and lay down the smack, for me.


The Ultimate Carnahan Payback

Attorney General John Ashcroft is the cabinet member elsewhere in a secret location tonight. If some Tom Clancy-like really terrible event should happen tonight, he would become President. Wouldn't that piss off some people.


Going Postal Just Took On a Whole New Meaning

Woman is made to walk naked before co-workers

I thought it was just another fashion show article, but no:

A U.S. Postal Service manager was forced to disrobe and walk naked in front of about a dozen employees yesterday morning by a colleague who threatened to kill her unless she complied. Lonnie Wilson, 60, who planned to retire on Friday, is in Summit County Jail, charged with kidnapping, aggravated menacing and gross sexual imposition.


Wilson had worked for the Postal Service for 24 years and had no prior problems.

But isn't it always like this?

Sullivan said Wilson, at 6 feet 5 and 235 pounds, can be physically intimidating. He did not have a weapon, but employees were scared.

Of course, aside from his size and attitude, he works for the US Post Office!

Sullivan said Wilson will be placed on administrative leave. The locks to the building have been changed, and he has no access to computers.

Administrative leave? I think I am beginning to understand why the US Post Office has so many problems with crazy people. What do you have to do to get fired by the US Post Office?

I'm just glad to know that if some really tragic, absurd thing happens to me, someone out there will be laughing at me in the blogosphere.


The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXVI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

Richard had published two columns in a row that made a lot of sense. It looks like he tried to make it three in a row but just couldn’t pull it off. While ostensibly a mild defense of President George W. Bush, it’s hard not to imagine that like Helen Thomas, whether he really means it or not, Richard just couldn’t resist a headline like Bush, the Bad Guy:

DAVOS, Switzerland –

Just in case you had forgotten that Richard goes to places you can’t. I mean, it’s an op-ed column. Does it really need a dispatch location?

Each year the meeting of the World Economic Forum here has a theme -- maybe something about globalization, or the dot-com revolution that came and went and is still going. This year the official theme is restoring trust, but unofficially it's something else entirely. Call it bashing America.

See, Richard is appalled.

In all my years of coming here I have never seen anything like it. You would think that George Bush, not Saddam Hussein, had twice invaded his neighbors, ruled his own country despotically and used poison gas on his own people. But Hussein -- while concededly a piece of dirt -- is getting off easy compared with Bush. The American president, quite simply as well as quite simplistically, is seen as a cowboy intent on shooting up the whole damn town.

So much for the sophisticates getting together to offer their sophisticated views on our sophistication.

What's a poor European to do?

Look for someone to surrender to? Generate an 20,000 page EU edict restricting the import of Venezuelan Beaver Cheese due to the inherent animal cruelty necessary for the milking of beavers? Start shredding the papers that would provide evidence of the links between the French and German governments and Iraq?

From listening to some of what was said here, you would think that Bush has revoked most of the constitutional protections that we call civil liberties.

I’m sorry, is Richard reporting on the events in Davos or has he merely been listening to NPR?

You would think further that the president is hellbent on going to war in Iraq -- not because Hussein is a menace but because he tried to kill the elder George Bush or on account of oil.

Richard, get it right. It’s pronounced oooooiiiiiiiillllllll. Maybe it’s about Mumia.

Much of the criticism is maddening, but, to a degree, the Bush administration brought it on itself by initially acting unilaterally.

There, I told you that Richard couldn’t quite bring himself to actually defend President George W. Bush. Sure, he can see the silliness of his critics, but, well, they are criticizing President George W. Bush after all.

It too casually denounced the Kyoto environmental protocol and the International Criminal Court.

Casually? No, I think they were rejected out of hand as not being in America’s interests and in fact, being unconstitutional. And what does this have to do with the agenda of the World Economic Forum, other than being part of the laundry list of illiberal complaints about the US not sacrificing its sovereignty?

When certain allies volunteered to do some of the fighting in Afghanistan, they were rebuffed. We'll handle this ourselves, the Bush administration said -- and it did.

Quite well, if I remember correctly, without being hamstrung by our NATO allies inability to integrate with our forces or to act forcefully in a clear manner. Remember Bosnia? Is this the kind of help Richard wanted us to depend on?

Little wonder, then, that Bush earned a reputation for unilateralism.

Well, that, and the never-ending piling on by people like Richard Cohen. Personally, I’m quite content with unilateralism until the rest of the world decides to have the commitment to freedom and liberty that we have.

In all likelihood, a war against Iraq was going to draw opposition.

Well, duh. Especially from the new generation of European appeaseniks.

In the first place, the United States is not going to war in self-defense. Iraq doesn't really threaten America or, for that matter, Europe.

Richard still doesn’t get it. But he has lots of company. With the threat of terrorism and the use of WMD, we can no longer wait to respond to an attack. The war has already started. We are not going to war; we are merely entering into another battle in the ongoing war.

Second, Europeans find Bush jarring. He speaks too bluntly.

Their problem, not ours. Maybe a little less obfuscation in international discourse might be helpful. Why should, “say what you mean, mean what you say,” be such a foreign concept to them?

He seems to exude smugness.

Or self confidence. Or a lack of wanting to please non-Americans at the expense of Americans. I find it telling that no one regrets not having President Albert Gore dealing with all of this.

He is no one's idea of eloquent, and some of his key aides -- Donald Rumsfeld, for instance -- are wont to say things that make for terrific sound bites but amount to awful diplomacy.

Again, perhaps the problem is with the vaunted concept of diplomacy.

Consigning Germany and France to something called the "old Europe" was a blunt brushoff.

Well deserved.

He might as well have dressed them in "Student Prince" costumes.

If the fancy dress fits…

Then, too, Bush has a hard case to make. He is out to prove that Iraq cannot account for the weapons of mass destruction it once had. The evidence that Iraq is cheating is that it has provided no evidence that it is not.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. We don’t have to prove a damn thing. Read UN Resolutions 687 and 1441. It is Saddam that must prove that he has destroyed the items that they admitted to having.

But if Bush has his shortcomings, so do his European critics.

Richard must have realized he was in danger of going a bit too far. So he’ll just posit that Bush has shortcomings and get back to the real problem.

They know damn well the menace that Hussein poses: Why else did they vote to send in the U.N. inspectors?

It’s called strategery. This is part of the simplisme master plan they have to hamstring the US from ever acting.

But rather than back Bush at this critical moment, they give vent to their resentment of American power and carp from the sidelines.

Imagine if we started to act half as imperially as we are accused of doing.

They insist, for reasons that emit a whiff of anti-Semitism, that the Arab-Israeli muddle must be settled first -- although how that will happen quickly after all these years no one seems to know.

Why not insist that cancer be cured first. It probably will be, you know.

After a while, the appropriate and sound criticism of Bush and his policies starts to fall on deaf ears.

I’m sorry, but which appropriate and sound criticism would that be? That we should have destroyed the economy to implement the Kyoto Accords? That we should sacrifice our freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights for the ICC? Has Richard paid any attention to how the courts work in Europe these days?

It gets drowned out in a cacophony of emotional anti-Americanism or even more emotional anti-Israelism.

Well, this is the World Economic Forum after all. Why shouldn’t they vent here?

Every once in a while these European critics have to be reminded, as they were by Colin Powell in his speech here, that America saved Europe from the Nazis and from the Communists and asked nothing in return. Our troops came and went, leaving behind little more than Hershey bar wrappers.

Remember in the movie Stripes where Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates) admonishes Francis (Conrad Dunn) that one of these men may save his life someday, and John Winger (Bill Murray) says, “Then again, maybe one of us won’t.”

If it is true that the Bush administration's rhetoric is sometimes excessive, …

But what if it is true?

… if it is true that it has sometimes made false claims (linking Saddam Hussein with the Sept. 11 terrorists, for instance), …

Perhaps they have evidence that Richard doesn’t.

… then it is also true that much of the European criticism is excessive and just as disingenuous.

Well, at least we know why we are starting to hate them.

European leaders know the danger posed by Hussein, but they act as if that danger will somehow be diminished by time alone. They do little to educate their own people about the harsh realities of the situation.

The spirit of Neville Chamberlain lives on.

Several times in sessions here or when Powell spoke to the entire conference, someone would say something in defense of America -- its values, its history.

But not President George W, Bush, of course.

That would usually provoke applause, and when I looked around it seemed to me that it was the Americans clapping -- me included.

Glad to see Richard is still with us. For now.

This is not a good thing.

Hey, that’s my line.

If we are going to fight Hussein, first we have to stop fighting among ourselves.

What’s with this “we” stuff. Remember Afghanistan? Richard should, since he highlighted it above as an example of our unilateralism, and we did that with a few thousand troops. Just imagine what a force one hundred times as big can manage in Iraq. To paraphrase an old aphorism, with allies like these who needs enemies?

Monday, January 27, 2003

I Can See Clearly Now

Here's a long, but wonderful, statement by William Whittle about the impending war. Great, great reading. It's already been linked a few times, but it can't hurt to give this as wide an audience as possible. He answered a great qualm I've had about viewing some of the atrocious images that are out there. Mr. Whittle also quoted a couple of lines from Talking Heads song Life During Wartime:

This ain’t no party
This ain’t no disco
This ain’t no foolin’ around

This ain’t no Mud Club
I ain’t got time for that now

Here's a couple more lines from that song:

Heard about Houston?
Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?

Sometimes I wonder if that's what it is going to take before some people catch on.

Thanks to Tim Blair for the initial link.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Just In Case

You were still laboring under the delusion that the state exists for the benefit of the people, and not the other way around, Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel clear it all up:

PUBLIC DEBATE ABOUT the Bush administration's latest tax cut proposals has largely revolved around their economic impact: How will they affect the deficit, public and private spending, investment, employment, and productivity? These are vital concerns. But there is another aspect of the debate-and an increasingly prominent part of tax politics in recent years-that is seriously confused. This is the issue of "tax fairness." The idea that there are standards of fairness that apply specifically to taxes is an illusion that threatens to distract attention from what really matters.

Fairness is a constant drumbeat in President Bush's rhetoric about taxes. He's condemned the estate tax as unfair because it taxes people's earnings twice. ("I just don't think it's fair to tax people's assets twice regardless of your status. It's a fairness issue. It's an issue of principle, not politics," he said about the estate tax during the 2000 campaign.) He has argued against the taxation of dividends, which are generally paid by corporations out of after-tax income, for the same reason. ("It's fair to tax a company's profits. It's not fair to double tax by taxing the shareholder on the same profits," he said on Jan. 7.) And Bush insists that, if there is a tax cut, it would be unfair not to share it out among everybody who pays taxes. (As he said on Jan. 10, "All people who pay taxes should get tax relief. This is a fair plan.")

But it isn't only Republicans who appeal to tax fairness. Liberals often identify tax fairness with progressive taxation-the notion that those who have more money should pay a higher percentage of it in taxes than those who have less. Those who resist President Bush's proposals point out that, under them, the rich would get much larger tax reductions than middle and low earners. The proposals to reduce income tax rates, eliminate the estate tax, and do away with the tax on dividends will reduce the progressivity of the tax system-and that, they claim, is unfair.

There is something wrong with this entire debate. It proceeds, on both sides, as if the fairness of taxes could be evaluated just by looking at the distribution of tax burdens among taxpayers. The reasoning is that taxes are a way of sharing the cost of government among individuals, so the question to ask is this: How much is it fair for the government to take from each individual, as a proportion of what they have before taxes?

But there is no meaningful way to consider the fairness of taxes in isolation from the government's other economic policies and the functioning of the economy as a whole. Whether we are conservatives or liberals, it is what people end up with after taxes, as a result both of private efforts and of public policy, that should determine our assessment of any tax program. Progressivity and double taxation in themselves are neither fair nor unfair.

The persistence of the idea that the distribution of tax burdens can be fair or unfair in itself stems from a very natural, but mistaken, picture of the relation between taxes and property rights: According to this picture, we own our pre-tax income, so in taxing us the government takes away some of our private property to pay for its activities. But in fact we don't own our pre-tax income, and what we do own is defined by a legal system of private property in which taxes play an indispensable role.

Let's repeat that last sentence for emphasis:

But in fact we don't own our pre-tax income, and what we do own is defined by a legal system of private property in which taxes play an indispensable role.

Wow. I've rarely heard someone who holds freedom (or private property rights, which are the same thing) in such contempt speak so honestly about it. Let me state this clearly so I won't be misunderstood. Private property rights are not granted by the government, they are protected by the government. There is a substantial difference between these two concepts, which, unfortunately, these learned professors of law and philosophy seem unable to grasp.

Sometimes it is just too depressing to think about.


Super Bowl

We've kicked off. (These updates will be coming throughout the game...)

I predict Raiders win, Gannon MVP.

Charlie Garner is from the University of Untouchables? Is that what he said? I thought he was from the University of Tennessee.

Simeon Rice is a jerk. He's from the University of Illinois for those that don't know, not the School of Hard Knocks. Gosh, can't you just smell the self pity?

Raider field goal. 3-0.

First dumb event. The second kickoff. Not even close to being a fumble. The linesman saw it unimpeded from about 20 feet away and was standing there to mark the ball, then ran up inexplicably, which led to it being called a fumble. Bad call that has costed Tampa Bay its first replay call. Very bad call.

First Bud commercial - Good concept, bad execution.

Quizno's commercial - Not too bad.

Chrysler commercial - More style over substance. I don't think I'll be buying a Crossfire anytime soon.

Charles Woodson won the Heisman at the University of Michigan if I remember correctly. Where did he say he was from? His High School? Jeez. I blame ABC. If the players cannot respect their fans, their schools, and the NFL, then ABC shouldn't give them the soap box. I'm still annoyed by the School of Hard knocks nonsense.

Buc Field Goal. 3-3.

Pepsi commercial - Are the Osbourne's still alive? The Osmond's too?

Fedex commercial - Ok.

Super Bowl Halftime Show commercial - Jeez, they have to try and convince you to stay tuned at halftime. What does that say?

The Hulk commercial - What's not to like?

Bud Light commercial - I like it.

Dodge commercial - don't try this at home.

The Matrix 2 and 3 commercial - Cool. Elrond is back! Films (at least some films) are so much better these days. Incidentally, I've never seen Minority Report, but I from the previews I thought it was going to be a Matrix wannabe. Especially once I saw that Tom Cruise's character was named Anderton.

MJ squared commercial - eh. Was this a Gatorade or Nike commercial? I wasn't paying attention. I I wanna wanna be be like like Mike Mike.

ESPN SportsCenter commercial - A bling bling reference. Juan Gato will be happy.

Anger Management commercial - Will Adam Sandler ever make a good film?

H&R Block commercial - Best commercial yet. Willie is still hip.

Bud Light commercial - New best commercial yet. I bet we see a follow up on this one. C'mon, give him a hot dog.

Some ABC TV show commercial - bleh.

Crockett on 1st Down?

Crockett on 2nd down?

So far the Raiders have not been able to take advantage of their field position. Could come back to haunt them.

4:13 remaining in the first quarter. Damn, there's a lot of commercials. But not this change of possession.

End of the First Quarter.

Visa Checkcard commercial - pretty good. Yao has a future.

Anti-drug commercial - so this poor guy did it all himself, huh? I see dumb bureaucrats. They don't even know they're dumb.

NHL All Star Game and NFL All Pro game - good concept. I hope for the goalies sake they didn't have to do too many takes.

McDonalds commercial - good.

Not much football to talk about yet. I suppose you had noticed.

Buc field goal. 6-3. Time to eat the minstrels.

Bud Light commercial - On a roll.

Daredevil commercial - eh. commercial - good.

Another Super Bowl Halftime Show commercial - they are desperate.

Sierra Mist commercial - ok.

Hanes commercial - The decline and fall of Western civilization.

Don't smoke commercial - Sigh..

ABC TV Show commerical - Bleh.

Buc's on a roll. Another interception.

Sierra Mist commercial - Bad concept, well executed.

Trident commercial - eh.

Bud Light commercial - Excellent! Again.

More ABC TV Shows - never watch 'em.

My wife made gumbo. Y'all have to excuse me for 10-15 minutes.

Buc TD - Mike Alstott. 13-3.

Bad Boys II commercial - Jerry Bruckheimer. Things blow up. More things blow up. Not all movies are better now.

Bud commercial - Not sure this works. Why are Bud Light commercials so much better?

Visa Check Card commercial - Brutal for Tiki. I wonder when they agreed to do this one.

ABC TV Show - Bleh.

3:45 remaining in the second quarter.

2:00 warning. Raider fans are very quiet right now.

Terminator III commercial - Back to good films.

Levi's commercial - Not worth the effort. Nor the expense.

ABC TV Show commercial - Extra strength bleh.

The Raiders better hold the Bucs to a field goal here before the half. Lots of no huddle by the Raiders coming in the second half.

mLife commercial - Bad idea, average execution.

Buc TD - Johnson to McCardell. 20-3. It's not over yet.

How many times do you see someone at this level try to run with the ball before they have it? Get down on the ground and pick up the ball. I'm surprised the Raiders aren't just running out the clock. Now they'll try to run the clock out. Madden and Michaels seem clueless that the timeout is meaningless. Oh, now they have figured it out. Give it up John, there isn't going to be a free kick. Jeez.

Haltime. Thus far the Bucs and Bud Light are clearly dominating.

You are on your on through halftime while I spend some quality time with the bar and the buffet. I wish In Living Color hadn't jumped the shark.

Did I miss it? Isn't anybody going to mention all the troops we've already got in harm's way or on their way there while we watch the Super Bowl?

Halftime seems to be when they run the commercials that were running before the Super Bowl. I gather they advertisers have caught on that we aren't watching during halftime. I'm getting ready for the second half and hoping the Raiders can make a game of it.

And were off!

3 and out. Maybe not.

Bruce Almighty commercial - Looks like some funny sight gags, but probably not much else. Almost makes me wish there were another Austin Powers film coming out instead. Are there usually this many commercials for films not yet released?

Diet Pepsi commercial - Very bad.

Hot Jobs commercial - Pleasant.

ABC TV Show commercial - Deep-fried bleh. I wonder if they do any post mortem analysis to determine if what they are giving up in revenue here is made up by any increase in revenue from these shows. My instinct is to think that this is not a good investment.

The Bucs don't have to score again. If they can run 7 or 8 minutes off here and then again in the 4th qurter, it's looking bad for Raider Nation.

Buc TD - Johnson to McCardell. 27-3. The fat lady is warming up.

Bud Light commercial - A little crude. I hope this isn't a downhill trend.

Subway commercial - The most vanilla-flavored commercial of the day.

Charlie's Angels Full Throttle commercial - Like I said, not all movies are getting better.

Cadillac commercial - That Led Zeppelin song never made me think about Cadillacs before. How about you?

ABC TV Show commercial - Time-released bleh.

Buc TD - INT return. 34-3. It is over. The only question now is the over/under. And viewership just dropped dramatically.

Anti-drug commercial - Sigh.

The Recruit commercial - Al Pacino needs to try on a new persona. He seems to be coasting with his Devil's Advocate persona lately.

George Foreman Grill commercial - Wouldn't you like to see George Foreman do a commercial with the mad-at-the-world attittude he had back in the 70's?

ABC TV Show commercial - Intravenous bleh.

Reebok commercial - Not bad. I may have to try this out in the office on Monday. Terry Tate rules.

Bud Light commercial - Back from the depths, but not as good as the first half, yet.

Damn, they hardly letting me breath here.

I think the Bucs' dominance is being a little overblown here by John and Al. They are just the better team today is all. Same with Jon Gruden. Past coaching Gods brought back to earth the last few years include Mike Holmgren, Mike Martz, Brian Billick, and Bill Belichick. If Gruden is so good, how come he never got the Raiders as far as Bill Callahan did in his first year?

Raider challenge.

It's good!

Raider TD - Gannon to Porter. 2-point conversion no good. 9-34.

The line was 43.5 for the over/under. Some people are really sweating right now.

This is starting to look like all the Super Bowls in the 80's, with the NFC just blowing the AFC out. Is this a trend? Oh, and the stock market really likes it whn the NFC wins, but you knew that.

NHL All Star/ NFL All Pro repeat commercial - Hmm, you think they knew it was going to be over by now?

SBC commercial - Ackh thppt.

Jack In The Box commercial - Huh?

GMC commercial - What the?

SBC commercial - Ah, this must have been the bone thrown to the affiliates. Otherwise this whole sequence of commercials makes no sense.

Raider TD - Blocked punt returned. 2-point conversion no good. 15-34.

The game is O-V-E-R.

Good listener commercial - I missed this one, sorry.

ESPN commercial - Old repeat.

Cadillac commercial - Dull.

ABC TV Show commercial - I wanna be sedated.

The commercials have gone downhill fast. Maybe there's one last Bud Light commercial left in the mix.

Bucs g-r-i-n-d-i-n-g i-t o-u-t.

Buc FG attempt. Martin Grammatica missed his Garo Yepremian moment and therefore his chance to be in highlight reels forever.

Sony commercial - An empty vessel.

mLife commercial - Weak after weak.

Phoenix and Vancouver drop the puck in 18 minutes.

Bud commercial - I like it.

Debit MasterCard commercial - Not too bad.

ABC TV Show commercials - Just Shoot Them. Isn't that one of their shows?

One thing about old football players is that they wake up one morning and they are suddenly slow. Did that happen to Gannon, Rice and Brown all at once this week?

Can I pick my moments to be embarrassed or what?

Raider TD - Gannon to Rice. 2-point conversion no good. 21-34.

Non-catch challenged.

If the Raiders had went for 1 each time, they would only be down by 10 right now.

Listening to Al and John drone on, is it too much to ask that the officials, coaches and announcers all know what the rules are?

Denied. This challenge was dumb. The Raiders are going to want that timeout later.
I don't remember Al or Jon mentioning this though.

6:06 left.

Alstott first down. Unless there's another turnover, I don't see the Raiders making it back.

4:33 left.

Al is confused about timeouts. The use of timeouts to stop the clock after the second or the third downs makes perfect sense.

2:44 left.

The Raiders need two TD's. Say, is The New Adventures of Heidi playing somewhere?

2:00 warning. Or as Don Cheadle would say, the NFL playoffs took the 2:00 minute warning and made it into the 2:00 warning.

Michelob Lite commercial - The good commercials are gone.

Tennis commercial - A tennis commercial?

If Warren Sapp wasn't celebrating, do you think he might have been able to get the fumble?

Doesn't matter.

Buc TD - INT return. 41-21. The Fat Lady has started the second chorus.

Derrick Brooks. That is fitting.

If Jon Gruden was going by the book, he would have went for 2. But it wouldn't have seemed right. Jon Gruden is a classy guy.

On the other hand, Keyshawn Johnson is now going to be insufferable, "Just give me the damned trophy."

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Buc TD - INT return. 48-21. The Fat Lady has been called back for an encore.

If only he had strolled a little more on his way into the end zone, the game would be mercifully over.

It is now over.

105 hyperlinks in one post is a new record for me.

I don't think I'll do this next year. Especially, since I don't think anybody read the damned thing.


Has It Started?

With all the problems with the Internet the last 48 hours, I was wondering if perhaps the war hadn't already begun. It's just not clear who started it.


They Can Always Go Lower

I received this e-mail today:

From: Dr. Ola Zozini
H.O.D. Clinical Pharmacology, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone: +234-804-214-4213

I apologize for this unsolicited mail to you. I am Dr. Ola Zozini, the Head of Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Director of research, at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria. I write to solicit your assistance in a project of mutual benefit. We got your contact over the Internet

In February 1999, a research grant (US$12.5Million) was given to the my department with I leading a team of other clinical pharmacologists, by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria to conduct a research on the effect of a “local plant extract” on Sickle Cell Disease in Nigeria. The research has since been concluded (specifically in August 2002). Of the total amount given to us for the research purposes we only expended US$4.623Million leaving a balance of US$7.877 Million. We are contacting you with a view to transferring this balance out for our own use. We have put in over 25 years of our lives into working for the government and as academics we do NOT have anything to show for it, hence this opportunity we see as a God-Sent one.

We sincerely hope that you will be of assistance to us. I implore you to treat this mail as confidentially as possible as we are still active academics, though retiring in the third quarter of this year.

If you are not in a position to assist us, do not respond to this mail and we apologize for taking your time.

Sincerely yours.

It's one thing to play off people's greed. It's entirely another to abuse their sense of charity and goodwill. I sure hope no one gets taken in by these bastards.

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